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Gibbs Leaves With Class


(Katherine Frey - TWP)

I'm the first to admit I have no "sources within the team" or "high-ranking team officials" or "long-tenured veterans" who call me to kibitz about all things Redskins. And it's easy to say this after the fact. But I'm saying it anyhow: I felt not one iota of surprise when I heard Gibbs was stepping down.

For one thing, playoff loss notwithstanding, he leaves with his reputation fully intact. Who will dare shred Gibbs for his losing record this time around, after the way he handled Taylor's death and then turned it into a four-game winning streak that absolutely no one saw coming? He obviously didn't do anything Hall of Fame-worthy this time around, and he won one playoff game in four years and compiled a losing overall record, but the last month lets him leave with everyone's respect. If next year turned into another bit of drab 7-9 disappointment, that might not be the case.

More importantly, have you heard him this year? Over and over again, he said that he would never retire, look back and say "Gee, I wish I had spent more time studying tape," but that he certainly might say "Gee, I wish I had spent more time with my family." Here he was speaking to Mike Wise about his grandson last month:

When you're closing in on the end of your life at some point, it's not going to be, 'I wish I spent more time coaching a football team,' it's going to be all the things you missed.

That's all you need to know.This isn't about the Lord or the hereafter; this is about priorities here on earth. And when you heard him say it so many times, it was obvious he wasn't making a joke or a quip; he was being earnest. I feel exactly the same way--I'll never sit back in 2057 and say "Gee, why didn't I post one more blog item about athlete mustaches back in January 2008," but I might surely wonder why I was blogging about grown men's facial hair instead of hanging out with my daughter. Difference is, I'm not a 67-year-old millionaire. He is. He doesn't need this.

The clincher was his most recent refrain; he said he used to think he was trying to win games so he'd have a platform for the Lord, but that the Taylor stuff made him step back and realize he was actually trying to win games for himself. Once football became--for Gibbs--about personal pride and not spiritual recruitment, his choices were either to convert football back into something spiritual, or to step away. He chose the latter.

The media made fun of the guy numerous times this year, because of "hard-fought" and "fighting our guts out" and all the rest of the silly cliches, and because of the botched time-outs and late-game misadventures, but that ended after Taylor and it won't return any time soon.

Here's an excerpt from one of Gibbs's recent online testimonials:

My biggest concern in life, is many times, for me, I've had the wrong priorities in life. Where should our profession be? I think it should be third in our life. First should be God and my relationship with him. Second should be my family and the influence I'm having on others. And that puts our profession where? Third. Many times for me, I've had it out of place, where it shouldn't be.

That passage alone makes this news both not unexpected, and entirely classy.

By Dan Steinberg  |  January 8, 2008; 9:49 AM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Next: Gibbs Opinions: A Round-up

Comments

"and then turned it into a four-game winning streak that absolutely no one saw coming"

Really? How is it that he did this? Any idea or is it just fun to say?

Posted by: jr | January 8, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Bill C to DC

Posted by: Young Hollywood | January 8, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Well said, Steinz. I obviously had my usual fun with this over at KSK but I'll always have a ton of respect for Joe Gibbs... as long as he doesn't start putting in 18 hour days with his pit crew.

Posted by: Unsilent Majority | January 8, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

god bless joe and wish him every happiness in the rest of life on this earth. you will always be mr. Washington Redskin to me, god bless and bon voyage

Posted by: magnum1936 | January 8, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I have a great deal of respect for the guy, but I am not a fan of the religous overtones of his leadership. Keep religion to yourself...your God doesn't give a hoot about football. Go out there and play the game to the best of your ability, entertain the rest of us spending money to be entertained, and leave the rest of it behind. Unfortunately, the game passed him by, and we need new current leadership. Let's replace this great man with Gregg Williams and rock the playoffs next year.

Posted by: NGE | January 8, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

"Once football became about personal pride and not spiritual recruitment, his choices were either to convert football back into something spiritual, or to step away."

Football and spiritual recruitment??? Please.

Posted by: halNOVA | January 8, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

The strongest thing you can say about Gibbs is that he hasn't diminished his legacy in Washington or anywhere else, in any facet of his life.

Posted by: ScottVanPeltStyle.com | January 8, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Joe - You are the best and always will be!

You have my respect with trillions of others. You will be missed, God bless you and your family.

Posted by: Ellie | January 8, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

I don't know Gibbs personally, but I believe that he's more proud of the teams than the trophies...

And yes, football was a spiritual platform for him.

Look at Darrell Green, Art Monk, and the rest of the 80's teammates. They aren't all saints, but they are good citizens.

And the team that we have now...

Even Sean Taylor was turning his life around, and many didn't think that was possible.

Yes, Gibbs was able teach all of us more than just football, but he was also an example of how to live ones life in humility and meekness through strength and willpower...and isn't that what sports are really all about anyway? To be a become a better all-around person!?

Posted by: CK | January 8, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

I agree that it is not a disgrace for Mr. Gibbs to leave at this point in his life. He has nothing to prove. He has had loved ones die earlier in his life. But I believe the death of Sean Taylor was a wake up. Seeing how all of Taylor's teammates reacted drove it home to Mr. Gibbs that football is just a friggin' game!

He just learned at 67 what many of us learned in Viet Nam in the 60's; life is fragile and can be over in an instant. What is important is family and definitely not a job!

But what will Mr. Gibbs do about his NASCAR team? If he withdraws from that to let his sons run the show then he was sincere in his reasons for leaving the Redskins. But if he stays with NASCAR then I think he was just bailing out on the 'Skins and feeding us a line. And that's not what a man of honor would do. Let's just see what happens...

Posted by: Marty | January 8, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

What's he gonna do? It's about time!

Posted by: SL | January 8, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Well said, Dan. And I am sure Joe knew that, if he stayed, would need a couple of more years of 24/7 to turn this thing completely around and there was no guarantee of that.

The world, and not just the NFL, needs more men with the integrity and class of Joe Gibbs.

Posted by: wallpass | January 8, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Well, I also am not shocked by this...I had my doubts earlier, however listening to him yesterday confirmed it for me! I knew then he wanted out, and I think his mind had been made after the death of Sean Taylor...and like I said when Campbell went down with an injury that this could be a blessing in disguise and didn't mean I don't like Jason I think he'll be a very QB but Collins right at the time was better suited for the offense...well I now say the same thing about Gibbs stepping down and in time we'll see! If they do the smart thing and keep Greg W. Head coach and Al S. O Coord well teams take on the coach's personality and I think we'll see a different team with a in your face aggressive attitude on both sides of the ball....

Posted by: 1trufan | January 8, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

I'm guessing his grandson will see a lot more of him.

Posted by: Rob Iola | January 8, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

I think it is important to put that time out fiasco with Buffalo to rest. Remember during that first time out, Lindell MADE the 51 yard field goal that didn't count. The first kick let's the kicker (or punter) get his bearings for the next, so it is highly likely that he would have made the next 51 yarder that would have counted. So, the double time out didn't "blow the game", period.

Posted by: CBfor3 | January 8, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I felt that Gibbs would retire after this season. Especially after the death of Sean. I think that made him put everything in perspective. I am also a Chrisitan and have never felt he pushed his religion on anyone and I am sure the players will tell you the same. But as a Christian, we talk about what God has done for us in our lives and we apologize to no one. If you don't like it, not our problem. The intent is not to make anyone uncomfortable. Those who love the Lord just professes it. Believe it or not God wants those who accept him to succeed in all aspects of their lives which include jobs, hence football. Well done Gibbs. I wish you and your family all the best and may GOD continue to bless you.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't incredibly disappointed, but this isn't about me, it's about what's best for Coach and his family.

Good for him and his ability to put his priorities in place. How many of us would have the guts to do that? "Hey Chris, go out to the public and resign, but keep in mind that you'll be letting down Redskins fans worldwide?" I have to say, I may shrink and put my personal health at risk, as is the case, quite possibly, for Coach. And what does that achieve for his family? Zip. A sick or dead husband and father.

At the end of the day, it's selfish of me not to admire him for his ability to stay true to his convictions. I mean this is a game for crying out loud!

God bless you, Coach. Your legacy will live way beyond the next few weeks, months and years.

Posted by: Chris E | January 8, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Well said, Dan. Normally, I'd be the first person to get up in arms about someone trying to infuse religion into something as ridiculous as football, but for some reason I never seem to mind when Joe does it. It seems so earnest, you can't help but respect it.

I'm going to miss Joe, again. I realize he may not fit the mold of the modern football coach, and his record this time around may speak to that. But he is, and will always be, /our/ guy. The last few weeks of this team rallying were as satisfying as any of the championship runs. I wish I could give the old guy a hug and thank him personally. I'm sure I'm not alone.

Posted by: bryc3 | January 8, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for a respectful and understated post, Dan. Yeah, the last few years can't match up to St. Joe's first stint in D.C., but anyone who grew up watching the Redskins in the 80's will always have a special place in their heart for Joe Gibbs.

Posted by: Mike_N | January 8, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I'm not very religious, if it all. I can see how some might be put off by Joe's football/religion connection. However, he is a man that has always followed his own words with conviction, and I have a great amount of respect for that. I know too many people that are religious zealots and treat others very poorly. Coach Gibbs' faith is an honorable trait.

Posted by: CBfor3 | January 8, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Though I was also swept up in the excitement when Gibbs was hired I also had my doubts. He's a nice, classy, good man in a field that's not particularly known for that. He also proved he's still a strong leader though his coaching was not up to what it was in the 1980's. Unfortunately he wasn't able to make the adjustments or manage the game the same way and seemed to be constantly on the defensive with his decisions and play calling.

As much as I like him I think he's right and it seemed like he did come back for himself this time. He certainly had nothing to prove. Oh, well. Michael Jordan had to do the same thing (in sports and politics D.C. has a thing for legends in their twilight). In some ways it's a shame because for years he was one of the few sports figures who knew exactly when to get off-stage (his coaching colleague at San Diego State, John Madden, also knew when to quit and parlayed his decision into a revolutionary career in broadcasting). At least hopefully now he'll be able to enjoy his retirement without having any "what-ifs." Despite his uneven and mediocre record he injected both excitement and stability back into the team when it was starting to drift and kept it from becoming a bottom-tier franchise.

Now it's time to recruit a coach who can move the team forward. Greg Williams (who deserves another chance to be an NFL head coach) and Bill Cowher would both be good choices. Either way, they inherit a cohesive, battle-tested squad that should only be a few more players away from being an NFC representative at the Super Bowl. In the meantime thanks for all the memories and a fond farewell to the sidelines, Coach!

Posted by: mikey | January 8, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Well said. We'll miss him but always have the memories, which can't be undone.

Who takes over the Redskins is immaterial, compared with Joe Gibbs and what he has meant to many, many people ... both football followers (namely devoted Redskins fans), NASCAR fans/followers of Joe Gibbs who may have crossed over to become Redskins fans (just as I did in the reverse to NASCAR back in 1991), and more importantly, Christians who have found Joe Gibbs to be a man of his word and commitment to his faith & family. I wish him all the success in the world.

He has been a true inspiration to me ... and always will be! May God continue to bless Joe Gibbs, his family and what he chooses to do in his profession.

Posted by: MKSkins | January 8, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

It's so nice that Joe seemed to walk the talk. So rare in a world filled with so many hypocritical types that wear their religion on their sleave, on their bumpers and in their candidates.

Now, Dannyboy, can we hire someone with a bit of a mean streak and something to prove? I don't really care about continuity with this mediocre bunch, so if you want to bring in Cowher and blow it up, fine with me. And if you really think we are a player or three away from competing with the elite in the NFC East, be my guest to hire from inside. In either case, keep Christ in church and focus on America's real Sunday place of idol worship: the gridiron.

Posted by: mireland1 | January 8, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

From a quote above..."But as a Christian, we talk about what God has done for us in our lives and we apologize to no one. If you don't like it, not our problem. The intent is not to make anyone uncomfortable. Those who love the Lord just professes it. Believe it or not God wants those who accept him to succeed in all aspects of their lives which include jobs, hence football."

What if I were to replace the text "God" with Buddha, or Jihad, or Zeus, or some Scientology person/thing/alien (whatever)...You as a Christian would call me wrong or crazy. Why aren't you a Buddhist? Because your parents weren't. Religion is a belief of convenience, because it is convenient for you to believe in a God in America. God isn't real anymore than the Easter Bunny, Harry Potter, or Fred Flintsone...they are all characters in stories. And as far as "not my problem", it is a problem for me because you "believers" think you are better than the rest of society. I am beaten down everyday by your "In God We Trust", "God has a plan", Chick-fil-A closed on Sunday :) crap. Do you think Dinosaurs and fossils weren't/aren't real. Nice, I guess the book of Genesis wraps up the whole scientific reasoning thing for you so you don't have to think. Good for you.

Prove to me there is a God, and I will believe. Oh wait...it is more convenient to use terms like "faith" instead of truth and evidence. Have a nice day, not because of a religious morality that I have, but because I like to treat others as I would like to be treated, as a person.

Wow, how did Gibbs stepping down bring this about? wierd.

Posted by: NGE | January 8, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Gibb's departure will do nothing to change the direction of the team. He never should have come back in the first place. The only thing that will change the fortunes of the team will be if Snyder gets bored and sells the team to someone that will run it as a professional operation rather than as a personal toy. Don't believe me? Check out the Cardinals (Chicago, St.Louis, Phoenix) and the Bidwells.
A once great franchise that I love, that will not arise again in my lifetime.(68 years old) A pity.

Posted by: oldredleg | January 8, 2008 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Quel http://www.love-flavour.net/cassa-risparmio-firenze al,.

Posted by: Hopper | March 19, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Perche http://www.chatterie-grandtomahawk.com/auto-modena.php il.

Posted by: Diana | April 14, 2008 2:38 AM | Report abuse

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